Cupboard-under-the-stairs – Part 2

The first step was to cut out the back with the news paper cutout from Part 1. You don’t need to have a back, you can instead install the shelves directly to the wall. We did it this way because it make it a lot easier visualize the final shelf and to assemble the unit in our garage with the tools we have (we don’t have a brad nail gun, for example, which would have made this project easier).

Once we had the back drawn onto the MDF, we finalized the shelf dimensions and made sure the baskets fit the design.


We cut the MDF with a jig saw (we don’t have access to a table saw) and primed the surfaces. I wasn’t especially careful with the primer coat, which I regretted later, since the pain did not go on smoothly. We ended up doing three coats of paint to make up for it.  Once the primer was dry, we assembled the pieces on top of the backing and painted the assembled unit with foam paint brushes and glossy white paint.


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After the last coat of paint was dry, we installed these umbra brackets to hold a 1″ wide coat rod.


James measured the studs, predrilled holes to install it and we had a couple of friends come to help hold it.


I previously mentioned that drywall is never square, which you can see below. Look at that gap between the wall and the unit! Luckily, a bit of white caulking went a long way to make a finished built in look.

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A couple of tips:

  • MDF is notorious for splitting. James predrilled and counter sunk everything.
  • James also a right angle clamp to build the shelf. I highly recommend it, since it helped the construction gosmoothly.
  • Important: when hanging, it is extremely important to find you studs. This is a heavy shelf.
  • We chose glossy white paint that matches our molding. The benefit of glossy paint is that it dries harder and will be harder to scratch when we pull baskets on and off the shelves.
  • We gave a 1/2″ gap between the left, right and top sides of the baskets to make sure they are easy to pull in and out.

Here’s the final product. The cubby for my purse is perfect and everything fits just right. I know it was a success because it has remained organized since we installed it two weeks ago!

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After I took this picture I sat in the living room looking at the unit for a good hour while knitting. This is one happy girl.

Disclaimer: Use common sense when doing a project like this and be careful when using any tool, especially if you are not familiar with them.  Measure twice and cut once, especially when you are working with drywall. The resulting shelf is very heavy and has the potential to hurt someone if it were to fall when installing it, or afterwards.

Sneak Peak

I frogged the Lifesavers cardigan I started on the weekend when I forgot to include neck increases. I made it up and took the opportunity to readjust my colour scheme a little, so the transition between red/purple/blue is smoother. I decided to leave out Mallard because it just didn’t fit, in my opinion. I’ve also reversed the scheme, since I realized Garnet (3rd stripe) would look best next to Jewel (2nd stripe) after I had done two stripes. No complaints, I like the rich colours.

I’m pleased, because my tension issue while working stockinette flat seems to be sorting itself out.

Lifesavers, take 2.

I’m looking forward to a lot of progress from this upcoming long weekend!


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